Archive for May 2013
This week was a reminder of just how formally beautiful Mad Men can be, plots, characters, and visual clues layered in symmetrical folds, creating a perfect origami swan of symbolic excellence! The connecting thread (to mix my metaphors) was the strange couplings – the connecting halves of disparate and sometimes perfect pairs – that wove their way through every plot point. Peggy names the theme when she yells at Don for pretending that he and Ted are not involved in a passive-aggressive odd couple routine, determined to divide the newly united SCDPCGC into teams: “sometimes you are the same man.” Megan echoes this later that night at dinner when sharing her frustration at trying to make Chloe and Colette into recognizably different people (and did you think for a moment that Megan might have gotten her part precisely because she could do that hammed up French accent so well?!): “they are two halves of the same person, driven by the same desires.” Perhaps precisely because he heard that speech from Peggy a few hours earlier, Don requests they skip the dinner Megan just cooked and “turn on the tube.” Thank god that Megan finally acknowledged how boorish and distant her erstwhile committed spouse has become, but more on the Don/Megan dyad in a moment. Read the rest of this entry »
There are a number of threads in this episode on which we could pull to try to unravel it and get at its meaning. I feel like the whole thing was full of one-liners, each of which could constitute the central focus of a whole blog post. The one I want to tease out is history. But first a brief aside: Mad Men gets consistently accused of being heavy-handed; indeed, I know I’ve made that accusation myself. Sally’s realization last night – “And then I realized I don’t know you at all” – or Don’s exclamation that every time they get a car “this place turns into a whorehouse,” hot on the heels of a set of flashbacks to his being raised in a brothel both offer examples of this classic Mad Men move of hitting us over the head with content summary. But last night I came to the conclusion that these moves are the show’s strength, not weakness. Because it’s not like any one of them makes the meaning of the whole thing so much clearer. Instead, they provide small footholds for reflection. I began to wonder, in fact, if when we bloggers like to point out how heavy-handed these moments are, it’s really because we’re a little overwhelmed by just how smart (and, by extension, confusing) this show can sometimes be, and we want to respond with something like, “don’t think you’re smarter than me Mad Men, because you’re not…I’m on to you!” An episode like this – that bends time and reality (brilliant use of lighting at various times makes hours pass unnoticed as a character simply walks down a hall to his office…I imagine alluding to whatever blackouts the drugged state may have been inducing) and opens up new dimensions for characters (I. Love. Stan. Now) – puts its meaning just beyond our reach. And in that, whether Don’s got time for art or not, the show, I think, comes as close to art as anything running on tv right now. Now, back to history. Read the rest of this entry »
While I’m excited for The Originals, this episode actually gave me a craving for a different spinoff – something like, The Other Side, maybe? I mean, Lexi, Alaric, Kole, the witches – these guys made the show fun again! I was, in fact, much more bummed than their best friends seemed to be when each one slipped away. At least Bonnie got some sort of a farewell – but of course, our biggest concerns with her (i.e., that her power would kill her rather than empower her) came true in an pretty amplified way. Not only did she die as punishment for her strength, but she got a kind of double, definitive death, giving up her life to save the guy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have Jeremy back. He’s actually become a surprisingly mature voice of reason on the show! But in an episode heavy-handedly exploring the theme of selfishness and self-sacrifice, it’s exhausting to me that the ultimate sacrifice is paid by the only strong black woman on the show in order to save the life of a white man. Read the rest of this entry »
The Mindy Project wrapped up its first season, as Mindy decided to join Casey on the year long mission trip to Haiti – seemingly solidifying their relationship, but leaving her professional life hanging in the balance. This has been an up and down season with some bright spots, but just not enough character development of laugh-out-loud moments to really satisfy. Given the cast and writers, I came into this show expecting a comedy series with a few meaningful story lines thrown in to make the viewer think every once in a while. On occasion the show did actually address some interesting topics and issues, Read the rest of this entry »
Sylvia was definitely the star of this episode for me (and how am I only just realizing now that she’s Lindsey from Freaks and Geeks? This was a bit of a rude awakening to the fact that I’m about the same age as many of these characters…even those I think of as “older”!). But I digress. At the end of the episode, Sylvia ends the affair because she feels ashamed – what isn’t made clear is precisely what has shamed her. Is it the adultery itself (what is, perhaps, implied), or the power-play sex-game maneuvering through which Don has put her? The danger up to this point is that the two would fall in love with each other – but this episode reveals that love was never really on the table. The minute Don hears those words – not only that he is needed, but that he is a unique form of need; he is singular – something clicks inside him. The transition from the ad-room conversations about Napoleon inventing margarine were the perfect pre-cursor to the shot of Don, seated on the hotel room throne, asking for Sylvia to bow before him. Weren’t you reminded of so many imperial portraits of Napoleon in that moment? And so the power of his own uniqueness went to Don’s head, and in an effort to live much too fully into that power, he invented a fantasy scenario that was – as the ad-team puts it with reference to Napoleon’s margarine Read the rest of this entry »
With only one episode left to go, Vampire Diaries definitely recaptured my interest! I’ll say more in a moment about why Bonnie’s death sucks…but first, why it’s awesome. Bringing down the veil in such a limited way (really, only supernaturals who have an interest in being inside a small section of Mystic Falls are bothering to cross over…and, well, Mystic Falls isn’t the most exciting place!) doesn’t seem all that bad. By not completing the spell, it seems like we have the best of both worlds (pardon the pun). Every supernatural who would have made my tv viewing overly chaotic is held at bay, and those who make the show better have reappeared. Yeeyy Alaric! And woot, woot army of scary vampire hunters! Read the rest of this entry »
So as we come to the end of another season of Community (perhaps its last, perhaps not), I don’t think I could have ever believed that my reaction would be one of indifference. At the beginning of the season, I was prepared to hate Community 2.0 (and some of it I did), but I also harbored a secret hope that I might love it (some of which I did), but increasingly, I’ve found myself waiting days to catch the show on Hulu – out of equal parts duty, guilt, and lingering hope. And that’s kind of my reaction to Advanced Introduction to Finality. All season, Community has been the show that does gimmick and homage episodes because that’s what it’s supposed to do (obligatory paintball!), and what its fanbase is supposed to love; and it’s become the show that revolves around the study group as a family with something dangerously close to an unearned sentimentality, lacking the emotional substructure previous seasons have had. And that’s precisely what we got tonight, I thought.